Once again Dani and I hit the streets of an unfamiliar town without any direction or clue as to where we might end up. We returned that night with filthy, aching feet but I have to say the day was a success in the end.
"Firenze" was packed with sights and excitement. Unlike Brussels the streets tended to be crowded and loud. Lucky for us we don't always follow the typical tourist routes and end up finding ourselves on more abandoned streets. Perhaps having a set agenda to see specifics would be good on some level, but approaching everything in our style keeps you from getting so wrapped up in making sure you are on the right street, heading in the right direction and making good time. Instead we can just wander and really take in the new environment, smell the smells, see the people.
Some particular favorite finds for the day were as follows:
The view of the other side of Florence by looking out over the river was fantastic, just as I had predicted...it's just the sight you would expect and want to see and I am glad our sense of direction worked well enough to lead us to the water.
Florence is full of museums and art, but we the only one we actually found oursevles inside was found on a small street that any normal tourist would probably not even set food down. It was very small and held what I believe the woman referred to as "stint" art. (Her English was very clear, it was just a word new to my vocabulary, so this may be incorrect.) The artwork is very similar to mosaic tiling, but the stones are not cut into geometric shapes and are instead put together to form what looks just like a painting if done well. There were some works that she said took thirteen months and held over 6,000 pieces of stone! Several large rocks sat in the front entrance...the thought of snagging one did cross my mind, as I knew my dad would love to use one in his stone work on the house, but I decided against it in the end.
There are several open stone quad areas in Florence and one we walked into was surrounded by several large, important looking buildings. I noticed that one had an open door, and unlike many open doors we have seen here, this one did not seem to have a rope cutting off your entrance unless you had paid admission. On the chance that perhaps we could walk inside, we went closer and indeed it was a large cathedral open to the public.
It is chancing upon places like this that make wandering without direction worthwhile. There was not an inch of the interior that was not a work of art, whether it be the sculpture work, the statues, domes covered in murals, the fantastic candles and lanterns--I was standing inside a work of art and all I could do was take a seat and try to take it all in. We found the place over halfway through our day, which was perfect time. Hot and exhausted, nothing felt better than to find a place of peace within a beautiful church. (Having found two-liter water bottles for only 2 euro was a pretty good feeling as well, I will admit.)
We enjoyed some pizza and a beer (Moretti) at a small corner stop before heading back to Castleflorentino for the night. Bustling and busy and perhaps considered a "small" city, Florence was full of treasures even on the most surprising corners. Some people told us you could easily do it in a day...I believe there was plenty more to see!
---There are new pictures on Webshots from Florence and Siena, but these computers do not have editing programs so I was not able to do any cropping and lighting adjustments, so they are not up to par YET! Once home I will fix them!--